The harmful effects of smoking have always been attributed to no less than its nicotine content. This chemical is said to be the main cause of various health problems, such as emphysema, heart diseases, and cancer. It is also deemed heavily addictive that exposes smokers to the detrimental effects of tobacco dependency.
For the uninitiated, nicotine is a chemical containing nitrogen found in several types of nightshade plants like tobacco, red pepper, eggplant, tomato, and potato. Yet, this chemical can also be produced synthetically.
However, did you know that nicotine has both negative and positive repercussions on your health? Yes, its side effects have an impact on your hormones, heart, and gastrointestinal systems. At the same time, it also has a handful of health benefits that not many know about, such as enhancing memory and improving cognitive functions.
Still unconvinced? Here are five surprising health benefits of nicotine that you should know about:
1. Parkinson’s disease treatment
Nicotine usually binds with the nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) in the brain, which causes various effects in the body. When consumed, the receptors regulate muscle contraction, work with the immune system, and produce neurotransmitters, such as norepinephrine, serotonin, endorphins, and dopamine. What’s great about nicotine is how it helps the dopamine reduce uncontrollable movements like palsies of those with Parkinson’s disease.
2. Cognitive enhancement
Another benefit of nicotine is its positive impact on the brain. For one, it has a neuroprotective capability that prevents degenerative brain disorders. It is also proven to enhance cognitive functions, such as working memory and visual attention. In fact, Sussex University psychology professor Jennifer Rusted said that it is the most reliable cognitive enhancer that we currently have.
3. Weight control
Nicotine has long been used to control weight, which is why people who quit smoking typically end up gaining weight. This effect can be attributed to the process known as thermogenesis that triggers your body to burn the thermogenic (“beige”) fat cells. The chemical stimulates a certain nicotinic acetylcholine receptor called CHRNA2, and this ultimately affects your metabolism.
4. Short-term memory improvement
Did you know that various researches have shown how nicotine can improve short-term memory? In a recent study, the University of Surrey researchers provided ten smokers and non-smokers with nicotine gum and a placebo. They were asked to accomplish short-term memory tasks for four hours. The result showed that an effect on the reaction time of those with nicotine actually enhanced their memory capabilities.
5. Physical performance boost
What’s good about nicotine is that it can be used as a performance-enhancing drug. This is why it’s easy to see athletes and other physical enthusiasts heavily rely on its use. In fact, a meta-analysis of 10 studies found that athletes believe that the chemical helps them perform better. This report went on to show that it prevents dry mouth, controls weight, aids in relaxation, and boosts reaction time and concentration.
Sure, nicotine is widely misunderstood by the public as pilloried in the press. However, researchers recognise some of its positive effects. As discussed above, you can take advantage of the following benefits—Parkinson’s disease treatment, cognitive enhancement, weight control, short-term memory improvement, and physical performance boost.
As smoking has long been declared to be dangerous for the health, it’s best to switch to vaping instead. While you’re at it, be sure to have nicotine content intake in moderation so that you won’t get addicted and can still take advantage of the amazing benefits mentioned above.
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